Rome may be too big to see in only 48 hours, though when you try to squeeze it all in you're bound to learn a few things along the way.
Instead of flying to our next destination we took this opportunity to take a train and observe the Italian countryside. ItaliaRail was easy enough to book tickets with and was a comfortable ride for a total cost of $29.
We stayed at what came across as a quaint and eclectic hostel run by a woman and her husband for $24 a night. On paper it was a cute spot for our short stay in Rome, though in reality when we arrived in Rome fairly late at night and had to walk along the tracks for quite some time before finally finding the small name of the hostel on a doorbell of a residential building. For two young women traveling it was an unsettling feeling, and we decided not to walk back at night for the remainder of our stay. The couple running the hostel were accommodating enough towards us, but seemed very harsh and strict on various rules with the others staying there.
There was a decent walk to the nearest metro station as well, so getting anywhere did take a minimum of 30 minutes on foot. Overall, I would not stay there again.
The first morning we were in Rome, was a Sunday, and a little bird told us that one could see the Pope on a Sunday in the Vatican. So we went. after an hour and a half trek through the middle of Rome we found the Vatican and a very busy St. Peters Square, and a very upset Police officer who did not like my aerosol sunscreen. But eventually we did find the Pope, along with hundred of other people.
While we did get to see the Pope, we missed out on all the Vatican museums, as they are all closed on Sundays. Make sure you check the days and hours that everything is open, and plan your schedule accordingly. Also some museums have discounted ticket prices throughout the day, sort of like matinee movies.
After learning the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel were closed, we ran into this small quick-service pasta joint and filled up before continuing our sight seeing. The first on our very quickly made and impromptu list of places to check out, was the Castle de Saint Angelo, followed by navigating through various piazzas.
The Trevi Fountain was so packed you had to wait in crowds just to step down to closer levels, and as soon as you saw someone begin to stand up from sitting on the edge you would have to steal the spot before someone else noticed. But we made it and we tossed our coins in (right hand over the left shoulder). Fun fact: the coins are collected nightly and given to various charities and social benefit organizations.
Only about a ten minute walk west, and we were standing in front of the Pantheon, which was again, much larger than I'd ever expected. The line to get in was long and winding, but moved fairly quickly. We circled our way from one side to the other stopping at the Temple's tombs including Raphael's.
Once outside the Pantheon, we made a game plan for the rest of the day/night. We wanted to leave some of the bigger sights for the next day and we hadn't pre-booked a pub crawl. So we checked online what Rome had to offer last minute and found a pub crawl that sparked our interest with one line: "Unlimited Free Drinks." Rome's Ultimate Party has a different theme every night, and for our Sunday Fun Day we bought the party package for $30, which included an unlimited open bar from 11pm to 12pm and free pizza. That was a winner in my book.
I do have to say though, this was one pub crawl we may have over-done it on. Getting back to our slightly sketchy hostel was not something we were capable of doing on our own, as we foggily remembered one of the girls we had met grabbing a cab for us before everyone else got to it, and sent us on our way. The night could have gone very differently if we weren't in such kind company.
Our second day was Colosseum day. After we semi recovered from the previous night's headaches, we headed straight for the iconic structure. We bought our entrance tickets ($12) outside Palatine instead of at the Colosseum itself and avoided quite a line. The ticket got us into the Colosseum, as well and the ruins and various museums within the ruins.
Get a tour guide. Usually they are free, you just have to wait a little bit for a group to form. But unless you've done all the possible research before and choose to be your own tour guide, you really aren't going to have a clue what you're looking at.
The Colosseum was very large, very crowded, and slightly uninteresting unless you had a guide telling you what used to happen in all the various places. It's hard to imagine the events that happened here without someone painting a picture for you, as the place is in ruins. I would have liked to do the additional tours of the upper levels and underground areas for a more rounded experience.
From the Colosseum we walked across the street to Palatine Hill to explore some more ruins, again, not really knowing what we were looking at. But we winded our way through and stopped in a few of the museums to get out of the heat and into some well appreciated air conditioning.
We decided to grab a well deserved sit down dinner at a restaurant down the road from our hostel before turning in for the night.
The next morning I set out to find a post office to ship out my Italian goodies (of which only my portrait and sandals actually made it home, damn you customs) we headed back to the train station to catch our shuttle to the airport, and were off to Spain.